Are you smelling what I'm stepping in?

I’ve been thinking about breathing, mindfulness and finding peace. Being at peace as often as possible.

At times I’ve struggled with the non-structure of being self-employed. There are so many tasks that must be done to be successful. Coming up with creative ideas for things to make, deciding which ones to choose, creating them, deciding how to glaze them, where to sell them, how to sell them, paying taxes, taking photographs, creating websites, applying to shows, carting all your stuff to shows, keeping up with social media posts and so many other little choices. That’s in addition to deciding what’s for dinner, and when to exercise, when to clean my house and when I can relax. I feel stressed out just writing that list. Sometimes there are so many things to do I can’t bring myself to do anything if I have to choose.

My husband is my sounding board and fresh set of eyes for many of my work-related problems. He suggested using whiteboards to help me get organized and prioritize what I need to do. I have one for my day-to-day studio production, where there are four columns dedicated to different pieces I’m making. This means I pick four items I want to make, and check off progess made on them as I go. Now when I get to the studio, I don’t have to wonder what I should be making that day in order to be productive because I am checking my list off and I don’t do anything else until that list is done. I have another whiteboard in our home office that the two of us share, which helps me get through things like ‘start an email newsletter’ and ‘pay taxes’. This might sound like a bit much to some, but it really helps me to take the weight of decision making off my shoulders in day to day life.

Additionally, I’ve been simplifying other areas of my life. We all have to make decisions, so why not let go of the ones that don’t really matter? I’ve been simplifying my clothes, so I can throw on something without thinking. Growing out my hair so it’s easier to style and wearing less make up to get to the studio faster. For dinner, there will be a green veggie, protein and a carb (yes keto fans, I love carbs and no one can ever make me stop eating them!) Breakfast is black coffee, a protein source, fruit and a serving of whole grains. Whatever I have around that fits the description wins. I feel liberated and happier for it. Marie Kondo is really onto something.

This is a long, rambling sort of way for me to describe the way I’ve been pairing down and making things simple. I feel more joy and peace without clutter, physically and mentally. I think it’s been translating into my work too. I admire such a wide variety of art, but the work that speaks the most to me is work with a few simple elements that all harmonize together. I’m not sure if I’m quite there, but that’s always my goal.

Coil pots are my favorite thing to make. I like the wobbliness of the surface and line quality in coil built pots. Of course, not all coil pots have wobbles but I like to leave them in. There is a looseness and movement to them that makes me happy. My focus has been on making forms with pronounced shapes and textures, while simplifying glazes so they don’t compete with what they’re on.

I like to think of these pots like songs by the White Stripes, instead of songs by Led Zeppelin. They’re like The Hardest Button to Button, instead of Stairway to Heaven. Don’t get me wrong, I consider Stairway a masterpiece (despite how overplayed it is), but it’s just not the type of art that comes from me. The spaces in between things are just as important as the ‘things’ themselves. Everything I didn’t put on that pot is just as important as what I did. Are you smelling what I’m stepping in?

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